Saturday, February 5, 2011

France up 2-0 against Russia in Fed Cup World Group

Until today, Alize Cornet of France had never won a Fed Cup match. In fact, a few years ago, she asked to be removed from second day play because she could not handle the pressure of Fed Cup competition. It was a different story today, though: In the first rubber of competition against former champion Russia, Cornet defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Cornet twisted her ankle in the final set, and had to take time out to have it bandaged.

In the second rubber, Virginie Razzano defeated Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-4. Sharapova went down 1-4 in the second set, but caught up. Russia's hopes were quickly dashed, however, when Razzano broke Sharapova in the next game, and then held at love to win the match. It was a fine display of tennis from the Frenchwoman, who has what it takes to beat higher-ranked players. As for Sharapova--it wasn't a performance she'll want to think about.

Belgium is up 2-0 against the USA. Yanina Wickmayer saved a set point in her second set against Bethanie Mattek-Sands, then defeated her 6-1, 7-6. Kim Clijsters then defeated Melanie Oudin 6-0, 6-4.

Also leading 2-0 is the Czech Republic. Lucie Safarova defeated Daniela Hantuchova of the Slovak Republic, 7-5, 6-1, and Petra Kvitova defeated Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-3. Kvitova looked really good in this match, and--as she continues to refine the rough edges of her game--she looks more and more like someone who who is headed to the top of the game.

Defending champion Italy is tied 1-1 with Australia. Francesca Schiavone (though she took the first set the hard way, in a tiebreak) was up a set and 2-0, and had two break points against Jarmila Groth. But what looked like a relatively easy win for Italy turned into an upset, as Groth held her serve, then turned the match around. Schiavone went down 3-5, 0-30 in the second set, but saved three match points. She then hit an ace to get a game point, but it began to rain and play stopped. When the players returned to the court, Schiavone saved a fourth match point with a drop shot, but Groth was successful with her fifth match point. She defeated Schiavone 6-7, 6-3, 6-3.

In the next rubber, however, Italy was able to even the score as Flavia Pennetta defeated Sam Stosur 7-6, 6-7, 6-4. Stosur served for both sets, but was broken. Pennetta is now 4-0 against Stosur; this is the first time Stosur has ever taken a set off of the Italian.

Tomorrow, in the Russia-France competition, Sharapova is scheduled to play Cornet in the third rubber, but no one should be surprised if Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is selected to sub for Sharapova.

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